The more you know about Los Angeles and its vicinity, the less you know. The sheer size and diversity of the region provides many options for entertainment, dining, night life and recreation. In the latter category are So Cal’s endless opportunities for hiking, be it along a beach, in the desert or in the mountains. Many hiking trails are known for celebrity sightings; some are visited because of their history as filming and television locations and others are popular because of their physical challenge and the excellent views from the top. However, there are some great trails that are a little off the beaten path, perhaps slipping under the radar of even the most died-in-the-wool hiking geek. Here are ten of them.
Located just off the 118 Freeway, this outdoor space exists thanks to a grassroots effort from local volunteers. Hikers can enjoy two small loop trails or wander farther through the canyons. Either way, it beats being stuck in traffic on the freeway.
Del Norte Trail Camp
Santa Cruz Island is almost as popular a destination as its neighbor Anacapa in the Channel Islands National Park. However, most visitors go to the eastern part of the island. Mid Santa Cruz offers some great hiking opportunities, such as the challenging and scenic trip to the Del Norte Trail Camp.
Five Oaks Trail
This short but steep trail in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park leads to Moulton Peak, providing excellent views of south Orange County. Geological history and a shaded stroll through the oaks of Wood Canyon add to the enjoyment.
Long Canyon Loop
Just beyond the edges of Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, Long Canyon offers pleasantly surprising solitude. There are several possible routes to take here, including a vigorous 6-mile plus hike that dips into the secluded depths of the canyon and climbs to scenic vista points.
Michael Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch
Say that ten times fast. Like the Chatsworth Trails, Joughin Ranch offers a quick, easy escape into nature a short distance from the 118 Freeway and the San Fernando Valley. The park is perhaps best known as an access point for Oat Mountain but the lower section has some nice trails as well that are worth exploring with views of Rocky Peak, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Hills and more.
Nicholas Ridge Motorway
Located in the northeast corner of Leo Carillo State Park’s back country, this “reverse hike” (down then up) descends from the meadows of Nicholas Flat to a knoll offering excellent ocean views.
North Etiwanda Preserve Loop
The “NEP” is best known for Etiwanda Falls, but the 4-plus mile loop through the preserve is also worth a visit. Highlights include panoramic views of the Inland Empire, interpretive displays describing the human and natural history of the area and ruins of a settler’s cabin.
Olinda Oil Museum Trail
History and nature meet on this short loop in north Orange County. The museum features displays including vintage equipment and a 1912 field house, while the trail climbs up the nearby hills.
Sonome Canyon Loop
Just up Carbon Canyon Road from the oil museum is a little-known annex of Chino Hills State Park. Using single-track trails, fire roads and residential streets, this loop provides panoramic views of Carbon Canyon and if visibility is good, the San Gabriel Mountains.
Murrieta’s Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is known for its springtime vernal pools and historic buildings, but not necessarily for offering many challenging hikes. The exception however is the steep and rugged Wiashal Trail which starts in the suburbs below and climbs through oak woodlands to the plateau, offering views along the way.
You may have done one or two hikes from this list – but odds are you haven’t done all ten. And if you have, there are a few more lists linked below for your consideration. Never stop exploring!